“It’s going to be tough”: Mother of middle school teacher speaks out after daughter’s death

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Pine Island Academy teacher Korey Harrington passed away this week from COVID-19. She was described as an amazing teacher and even better person, putting friends, family and students first.

Action News Jax first reported on her death on Wednesday. Her family spoke off-camera saying she would be deeply missed.

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Her mother, Katherine, spoke with Action News Jax today about Harrington’s lasting legacy. Katherine was by her daughter’s side in her final moments.

“It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done in our lives,” she said. “To say goodbye to someone that was so sweet and so wonderful and actually so needed in this world.”

The 47-year-old was an ESE middle school teacher working with special needs students. She worked at Pine Island Academy and previously at Nease High School.

Her mother told Action News Jax that Harrington’s childhood was not easy, and she had several health problems, including being a Type-1 diabetic at age 7. Harrington was also a double transplant recipient.

“She was lucky to live as long as she did,” she said. “She was a double transplant recipient; she was blind for a while.”

It was a reason why Harrington said her daughter was not vaccinated. Given the number of health problems, she said her daughter didn’t want to risk a severe reaction after already having issues with the flu vaccine. She did follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

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“She also had a severe (reaction) to just a regular flu shot, so that made her nervous to get this one,” Harrington said. “She thought about it and decided not, but the thing she did do was always wear her mask.”

For someone who brought so much joy to this world, Harrington’s mother said life will not be the same without her daughter.

“It’s going to be very tough moving on — I think not only for me but all of her friends, all of her students that she has, all of her co-workers. (Its) going to be tough. She’s going to leave a great void,” she said.

Her mother told Action News Jax she doesn’t want anybody to go through what her family experienced. She said she wants her daughter to be remembered for how caring she was to her students and family.